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Having a ball walking back to good health

Jamie Westwood, left, with former professional footballer Lee McCulloch at a walking football event 

A Golden Jubilee patient is finding he can still enjoy playing the beautiful game even after three major heart surgeries.

Jamie Westwood, from Glasgow, has started a walking football group for younger people, like himself, who may have health problems which prevents them from doing the sports they love.

The 27-year-old receives care from the Golden Jubilee’s Scottish Advanced Congenital Cardiac Service (SACCS) as he has had his condition since birth.

Jamie, who works as a paediatric research nurse in Glasgow, was determined his love of football wouldn’t be limited to just watching the national game and decided to get his boots on after hearing about Walking Football Scotland (WFS).

Walking football was introduced in Scotland to promote healthy activity for older people so Jamie decided to start sessions for people aged 18-50 at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre on Monday evenings.

Jamie said: “I have a lung condition related to my heart problems, which is the reason I started walking football.

“I love playing football, but unfortunately I’m limited to the physical activity I can do so walking football is perfect for me, more manageable, and I can still enjoy the basis of the game.

“I am aiming to get a league going as there are more and more people coming along each week and the numbers are slowly building.

“It’s a great workout, there’s no contact which reduces injuries and it keeps me fit and healthy and there’s also the social aspect as well.”

Walking football is growing fast across the country and participants are enjoying the mental health and physical health benefits the game brings with it.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Golden Jubilee, Dr John Sharp, said: “Jamie’s enthusiasm and determination to find ways to continue to be involved in sport is a fantastic inspiration to us all.

“He has shown that everyone, even people living with serious health conditions, can participate in organised sport. There is overwhelming evidence that being physically active is crucial to help us live a healthy and fulfilling life.

“People who do regular physical activity benefit physically and psychologically and this type of exercise is excellent for both young and older people.”

WFS is hosting the world’s biggest gathering of walking footballers for the Scottish Cup and Festival event at Glasgow Green this Saturday (June 29) with 73 teams taking part.

WFS Chair Gary McLaughlin said: “It’s great to hear what Jamie is doing as walking football will be helping him build up his heart, which is a muscle, as well as his legs and joints.

“Age groups are different as there are people of all abilities and disabilities who do walking football and this evens up the playing field for everyone. It is life-changing for people and we want to get as many people fit and active as we can.

“You can do around 8,500 steps in an hour, it’s a bit like power walking, and you can start at a low intensity. We have a very friendly ethos here and it really can give people a new lease of life.”

For more information visit www.walkingfootballscotland.org. Call 0141 287 4350 for details on Jamie’s sessions at Scotstoun.

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